The Miami Heat's biggest stumbling block en route to a second straight NBA title might be what's known as a "mechanical."
LeBron James has taken to riding his bike to and from his house to American Airlines Arena on game days, making the 45-minute or so journey three times this season, he told reporters Tuesday. Before the Heat beat the Wizards by 30 points last weekend, he made the roundtrip for the morning shootaround, too.
Hopefully, he's got a tire and tube repair kit.
"I got lights on my bike. I'm dead serious," James told Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports South.
While some NBA teams twist themselves into knots over how badly they need a star player to return, James is using his commute to get into better shape. He already is averaging career highs in rebounding, 3-point shooting and field goal percentage. While the NBA's best teams concern themselves with how well they need to play to prepare for next spring's playoffs, the Heat are quietly in control.
"Everybody is healthy. Same lineup," was the extent of Heat coach Erik Spoelstra's pregame comments before Tuesday's 103-92 win over Minnesota.
Miami is better offensively than a year ago, with the highest assist ratio (18.4), 3-point shooting percentage (.412) and effective field goal percentage (.550) since James arrived in 2010. Ray Allen, shooting 47.1 percent from the arc, and a renewed Rashard Lewis (47.4 percent) certainly help.
At 16-6, Miami still doesn't have the best record in the league, and four of its six losses raise some concern. Two came against New York, which likes the matchup now that it has its own bevy of shooters. Memphis and the Los Angeles Clippers are right behind Oklahoma City at the top of the Western Conference.
Speaking of the Thunder, they will return to the site of last year's NBA Finals defeat on Christmas Day, at which point James can measure himself against Kevin Durant, who is also averaging career highs in field goal percentage, rebounding and assists.
James knows he can outwork most of his NBA foes. Now he's making the rest of this car-bound country look lazy, too.
- Craig Stouffer